Jeremy Waite


News and advice

Preparing for the football season to avoid injury

With the football season now starting many people will be turning their attention to cleaning their boots and getting back on the pitch.

After a summer of rest, the early season is a classic time for people to pick up football injuries so what should we all be doing to minimise these risks?

Whilst some injuries can be caused by bad luck, the majority are down to poor preparation and can be avoided. The first priority for any player is to ensure that they have done enough fitness and strength work before they actually get their boots on.
Basic fitness levels can be taken care of with typical aerobic exercises such as running and cycling, but just as much emphasis should also be placed on strengthening work for the core of the body and the legs. Strong muscles and joints are far less likely to break down than weaker ones, and this strengthening needs to be done in a focussed way rather than just relying on it being picked up over the course of the season on the pitch. Proper preparation at this stage will definitely pay dividends later in the season.

Having achieved this, as with all sports, a good warm up prior to the game is also a really important way of decreasing the risk of injury. In the case of football a warm up should begin with some very gentle running round the pitch just to loosen off the body and warm up the muscles.

After this work (and only after) some gentle stretches focussing on the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and groin should be carried out to increase the range of movement and suppleness of the muscles. Too many people make the mistake of over-stretching though which can do more harm than good. If in doubt check with your own specialist or contact me for more specific details.

The crucial element of any stretching though is to make sure the muscle is partially warm and then only stretch to the 'initial point of bind' and not to a point of any discomfort. For specifics such as a hamstring stretch, ensure that your core is activated, your posture is good with a straight back and lean gently into a stretch for the hamstrings of one leg only.Whilst the muscle is being stretched keep breathing deeply and ease into feelin the muscle optimise its length. For a full programme of stretches applicable to your chosen sport, please contact me for further advice.
The final part of a warm up should be sport specific. In this instance for football, passing and running drills involving quick changes of direction to simulate the game itself would be perfect. Make sure this is all done close enough to kick off so that your body can’t cool down again, and then pull on the team strip and wait for the referee’s whistle to blow.

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Providing sports and remedial massage as well as training and rehabilitation advice throughout Berkshire and Oxfordshire and especially to clients in Streatley, Goring, Pangbourne, Wallingford and Reading.

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